The Myth About Christian Business Owners
There’s a myth about Christians that even the Democratic National Committee Chairwoman is perpetuating.
It goes like this: Christian business owners are looking to broadly discriminate against gays in their places of business and want to refuse them service at every opportunity. This is in essence what DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz told my colleague David Brody this week.
However, I have yet to meet a Christian business owner who agrees with that thinking. Moreover, the Christian business owners who have suffered the most for their beliefs on marriage have been clear in explaining that they merely want the right to decline to serve a gay wedding ceremony.
Several years ago, Denver baker Jack Phillips refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission has since ordered Phillips to bake gay wedding cakes for anyone who asks and to “re-educate” his staff.
Did Phillips outright refuse to serve the gay couple? No. He told me what he told them: “I'll sell you birthday cakes, shower cakes, cookies, brownies, anything else. I just don't do cakes for same-sex weddings.”
In Washington, the state says florist Barronnelle Stutzman broke the law for refusing to serve a long-time gay customer on his wedding day.
Note: he was a long-time customer meaning that Stutzman clearly did not refuse him service over the years and that he in fact appreciated her business and felt comfortable. Otherwise, why would he have continued to patronize her? Stutzman is now appealing to the state Supreme Court.
In Oregon, the state’s labor commissioner has ordered bakers Aaron and Melissa Klein to pay $135,000 in emotional damages to a lesbian couple whose wedding cake they refused to make. Again, the Kleins only refused to make a wedding cake and the customer was a returning customer.
Perhaps there’s a way that Christians can better explain that their businesses are open to all. And perhaps there’s a way that they can better explain the First Amendment and the whole concept of conscience rights.
It wasn’t that long ago that liberals championed the rights of conscientious objectors during the Vietnam War. More recently, pro-life nurses and doctors have been allowed to opt out of participating in abortions if they work in a hospital where they’re performed.
Today, Christian wedding vendors and other business owners are simply asking for the right to follow their conscience. Non-believers and even Christians may disagree and believe they should “bake the cake.” But whether or not they agree with the belief, they should agree that conscience rights are critical. The challenge then is for the country to decide how critical those rights are and whether or not they trump sexual liberty.